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Fubar review — Schwarzenegger saves the world (yet again)

Nonsensical plotting and close shaves pile up in the Governator’s enjoyable Netflix debut

Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new action vehicle, and a new catchphrase to boot. “That’s it and that’s all,” he says repeatedly, sounding perhaps less like an unchallengeable authority than a valedictory Porky Pig. Its frequent recurrence in the Netflix series Fubar might also be read as a form of acknowledgement of the show’s limited scope. This is a fun, fundamentally unserious save-the-world romp with close-shave thrills, nonsensical plots and breezy comic relief. But that’s it and that’s all. 

The eight-part show marks the first foray into television work for the 75-year-old Schwarzenegger (the second, an autobiographical Netflix docu-series, follows next month, and the network has just appointed him its “chief action officer”). If big names are often guilty of checking out on big paycheque projects, here the veteran star seems genuinely enthused about bringing his outsized muscles to the world’s small screens. He plays Luke Brunner, a CIA agent on the cusp of retirement (naturally) who’s given one last job — stopping a nuclear device entering the wrong hands. 

To make matters even more delicate, his innocent, darling daughter Emma (Monica Barbaro) happens to be an undercover operative assigned to the same mission. Given — or despite — their respective positions as top espionage assets, neither suspected the other was a spy. While both feel betrayed, there truly can be no better time or way for a father and daughter to thrash out their issues and build trust than, say, while aboard an unstoppable train or during a honey-trap operation.

As the title suggests, things tend not to go to plan, and there are a good few near misses and cliff-hangers in the opening episodes (which could have been half the length). In less adrenalised moments, the show plays out like a cross between a traditional family comedy — with Luke determined to win back his ex, as well as Emma’s love — and a workplace sitcom that features bantery side characters. The jokes may not hit the mark as often as the gun-wielding Luke, but there’s a sustained, knowing levity which helps make Fubar a more appealing proposition than Amazon’s recent globe-hopping but leaden spy show, Citadel.


On Netflix from May 25

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